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Uruguay River: Map


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Map of the Uruguay's course
The Uruguay River ( , ; , ) is a river in South America. It flows from north to south and makes boundary with Brazilmarker, Argentinamarker and Uruguaymarker, separating some of the Argentine provinces of the Mesopotamia from the other two countries. It passes between the states of Santa Catarinamarker and Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil; forms the eastern border of the provinces of Misionesmarker, Corrientes and Entre Ríos in Argentina; and makes up the western borders of the departments of Artigasmarker, Saltomarker, Paysandúmarker, Río Negromarker, Sorianomarker and Coloniamarker in Uruguay.

The river measures about 1,500 km in length and starts in the Serra do Mar in Brazil, where the Canoas River and the Pelotas River are joined, at about 200 m above mean sea level. In this stage the river goes through uneven, broken terrain, forming rapids and falls. Its course through Rio Grande do Sul is not navigable.

Together with the Paraná Rivermarker, the Uruguay forms the Río de la Platamarker estuary. It is navigable from around Salto Chico. Its main tributary is the Río Negromarker, which is born in the south of Brazil and goes through Uruguay 500 km until its confluence with the Uruguay river, which is located 100 km north from the Uruguay's confluence with the Río de la Plata, in Punta Gorda (Colonia Department, Uruguay).

The river is crossed by four international bridges (from north to south): Paso de los Libres-Uruguaiana International Bridge, between Argentina and Brazil; and the Salto Grande Bridgemarker, General Artigas Bridgemarker and Libertador General San Martín Bridgemarker between Argentina and Uruguay.

The basin of the Uruguay River has an area of 370,000 km². Its main economic use is the generation of hydroelectricity (see Salto Grande Dammarker).

Origin of the name

The name of the river comes from the Spanish settlers' interpretation of the word the locals used to designate it. The original name, Urugua'ý, in Guaraní, means "river of the painted birds".

Cellulose plant conflict

Sunset in the Uruguay River, from Misiones, Argentina

Argentina and Uruguay are currently experiencing a conflict over the Uruguay River. Two European companies proposed to build cellulose-processing plants at Fray Bentosmarker, Uruguay, opposite Gualeguaychú, Argentina. Since April 2005, residents of the latter as well as many others have protested, claiming that the plants will pollute the river shared by the two countries. At the turn of the year the conflict escalated into a diplomatic crisis, making one of the companies move the project 250 km south. Since December 2005, the international bridges linking the Argentine province of Entre Ríos with Uruguay have been intermittently blockaded by Argentine protestors, causing major disruptions in commercial traffic and tourism.

Recent Developments

The International Court of Justice completed hearings on October 2, 2009, between Argentina and Uruguay over the dispute. Judges from the Court will present their verdict in the beginning of 2010. Argentina believes the Finnish company Botnia is polluting the fish as well as the overall environment while Uruguay believes that the plant is not depositing a large amount of toxins in the Uruguay River. (AFP|

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